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tv   Senate Panel Examines Pesticide Registration Laws  CSPAN  May 13, 2017 3:36am-4:11am EDT

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for max and everybody else that is coming aboard this planet. and thank you for proving time and time again that the malfesean theory is not correct. we are now in the midst of a 15-minute vote on the floor of the united states senate, and we are hopefully going to be able to come back and hear your testimony and have a trade representative confirmed by the united states senate. an extremely important vote. so, i am going to state that the committee stands adjourned, subject to the call of the chair, and i plan to be back within about seven minutes. i hope that will fit your schedule, because we certainly want to hear your testimony. >> thank you. >> the committee stands adjourned subject to the call of the chair.
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>> the committee will come to order. you are recognized for your statement. thank you very much for coming. >> thank you, chairman roberts, and other members of the agricultural committee. thank you for the opportunity to present my testimony this morning. my name is virginia ruiz and i am the director of occupational and environmental health at farm worker justice. farm worker justice is a national advocacy that supports farm workers in the u.s. to support their live going working conditions, occupational safety and access to justice. farm worker justice has been a member of the pria coalition along with the natural defense council and industry representative since the passage of the 2003 improvement act. and we supported
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re-authorization in the form of the pest saj registration enhancement act. under pria, money set aside from pest registration fees support worker protection act tichlts. for more than ten years the pria set asides have funded important programs at epa including pesticide safety training for farm workers and pesticide handlers, the development of worker and employee training materials on pesticide safety and implementation of the worker protection standard and the certified test site applicator role. also education and training for medical providers who treat pesticide poisoning and for state public health agencies to maintain pesticide injury surveillance program. farm workers and especially those who mixx and apply pesticides face substantial risk of becoming poisoned by pesticides because they work with them at their greatest concentrations and strengths. farm workers and their families come in contact with pesticides on a daily basis. pesticide residues that remain on their work clothes and skin
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when they return home from work can also expose members of their family and cause injury. exposure causes farm workers to suffer more chemical related injuries and illnesses than any other work force in the nation. u sep a estimates that up to 3,000 farm workers have pesticide poisoning every year with symptoms of irritated eyes, rashes, headaches, nausea, shortness of breath. these estimates don't include those who suffer long-term effects of exposure such as cancer, parkinson's disease, asthma, birth dee faekts afects neurological harm. epa found the greatest risk from the phosphate chemicals are some of the greatest risk to agricultural communities and workers. many of these acute poisonings are preventable through basic workplace protections and worker safety education such as those
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required by epa's worker protection standards. or the wps. the wps applies to hired workers and pesticide handlers involved in agriculture. in november of 2015, after more than a decade of stakeholder meeting study and consideration, epa finalized revisions to the wps that provide critical improvements designed to reduce the risk of illness or injury rultding from workers occupational exposures to pesticides. also in january of this year, after more than 40 years, epa updated its regulations concerning certification of and training requirements for individuals who apply restricted use pesticides which are some of the more dangerous pesticides available on the market. the updated worker protection standard and certified pesticide applicator rule provide long overdue protections for families in rural communities in the u.s. from exposure to pesticides. these regulations call for basic
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preventive measures that will save millions of dollars in medical costs and loss of productivity due to illness. these common sense measures include annual basic safety training, posting of application and safety information, meaningful hazard communication, functioning personal protective equipment, adequate supervision of noncertified pest applicators and provision of children from handling of pesticides. pria funding is necessary to help epa meaningfully and effectively implement these important safety standards, but these worker protection activities are meaningless if the worker protection standard and applicator rule are weakened and roellled back. pria helped set aside worker assistance and training. these funds must complement, not replace funding for other pesticide safety worker protection and other environmental justice programs. stable funding for the agency as a whole is vital to provide
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occupational and environmental education for workers, their families and rural communities and to prevent adverse effects from pesticide exposure. farm worker justice requests that this committee reauthorize pria as quickly as possible and without any changes to amendments or existing language. thank you very much for the opportunity to address this important issue and i look forward to answering any questions you may have. >> thank you very much for your very timely comments. and when you state that pria should be moved as quickly as possible and without any changes or amendments to existing language, i'm reading your statement, i can assure you we're going to try to do just that. and thank you for your leadership in behalf of the -- of all of our farm workers. where are we here?
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mr. murden, you highlight in your testimony the many challenges that sorghum producers and citrus growers face. i think you went a little farther than my question here from sugar cane, crop protection tools, pesticides certainly viable tools with regard to these types of threats. and you mention in your remarks, there are many challenges surrounding the use of these effective tools beyond just the administrative challenges related to fefra and agencies like the epa and the usda. what are the regulatory challenges create uncertainty for farmers? can you give me a rating? we had a good commissioner in his three-point plan, but pretty tough to list these challenges by their problems.
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but give it a shot. >> well, i think for us one that comes to mind right now is we had labelled used pesticides that were taken away. we don't really understand why. and the frustration with getting a section 18 back has been cumbersome and slow and we're trying to work through those issues now. some products that were safe and did work, and were economical for us and it just didn't make a whole lot of sense why we lost them in the first place, and getting them back has been a challenge. >> you also mentioned the problem of all the paperwork or the work that goes into responses that are called for. give me a couple examples, if you could. >> well, in some of those responses as i mentioned, toxicologists and things like that, i'm just a farmer and some of the questions they ask you to respond to are just out of my
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league and you have to count on your science friends to kind of help you out some. i think those folks need to get out of that cubicle more and turn more often and they might appreciate what is going on a little better. >> i appreciate that. mr. groom, in your testimony you mentioned it was certain for registration packages for the epa. can you elaborate on how pria has continually improved the regulatory certainty for the registrants? >> thank you, mr. chairman. absolutely. so, we describe in our written testimony how the passage of the food quality protection act in '96 really put huge bind on epa's processes and the biggest casualty of that additional work was the slow down and virtual halt for new product approvals because of the burden of reevaluating under the new
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standards of sqpa. it took a few years in 2004 to get pria put in place. so, wait times went above four, five years, even at that time some cost investment into new active ingredient for manufacture was probably in excess of $150 million. today it is approaching $300 million. and within a couple of years of pria being enacted and having the effect of additional resources for epa and the clarity of priority of time lines, that four-year and more wait time dropped to about two years. now it's creeped back to about three for a variety of reasons. some miss targeted appropriated dollar support. that's why i think, again, getting the appropriators at the table and helping come up with a
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compromised approach just like the compromise represented by the coalition that virginia referred to that we're both a part of, farm worker justice and the pesticide industry, makes sense to get to some compromise here on the hill with appropriators and authorizesers. thank you for your question. >> mr. black, you talked about pesticide, fungicide, a unique regulatory environment. however, i am concerned that other federal statutes not meant to impact the state's responsibilities regarding fifra registration may be burdensome. what type of interaction have you seen between your state enforcement responsibilities and other federal statutes? i'm talking about the endangered species act. would you support the modernization of this act? the answer to that is yes. please proceed.
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>> yes, sir, we would support that, absolutely. and it's been the topic of discussion a long time. i know you're passionate about it. one of our -- maybe the best example in the state of georgia -- let's start with a success, but then it winds up with a challenge. we have extensive holdings in cotton. we have had a big problem with pig weed. we began working on the new technology with industry and with our federal partners and actually part of the success out of the equation is we've had epa in georgia. we've had them out of the cubicles and we've had them see exactly what was wrong with pig weed in georgia and why we needed 2-4 d technology within our c technology. that worked pretty well, but now
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we've got decisions that have been made of how you can use it that don't really go back to science. there can be no tank mixes on the use of 2-42 and dicamba with the soybean and cotton, mr. chairman, but my experts tell me that can be proven wrong. but the answer they've gotten were simply -- epa scared of being sued because of endangered species. and, so, i'm not sure that is exactly -- to get back to our sound science, we'd love to stick to science. but the tank mix issue with respect to di cam and 24-d is what we have right now. >> i appreciate that. other than to repeat my comments to you that the committee is going to work as quickly as
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possible and without any changes or amendments to existing language, and i'm reading to you your statement. so, thank you. i appreciate that. senator klobuchar. >> thank you very much, mr. chairman. and thank you to all of you for being here and your good work that you do all the time. i was specifically asking in the previous witnesses here about the timetable. and i know that pria has a proven track record of providing a stable funding source. minnesota indices like eco lab have been at the forefront of developing innovative products and the predict ability -- this is what we want, right -- as well as safety, the forefront o investigating product and the predictability that allows products like these to reach the marketplace in a consistent way. and so what lessons can we take from the pria coalition on
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bringing coalitions together to address some of the inefficiencies that we can have? and i would love to take some of this success in having a bill that everyone agrees on and having a way of doing things into other areas. anyone can answer this. >> thank you senator klobuchar. on behalf of crop life and others hopefully on the coalition we do think that epa has learned a lot about doing its business more efficiently and effectively since, you know, the -- what, now, 13-plus years that pria has been there as an added resource but also with regard to the policy guidance that's in the law about time line and targets to make decisions whether they're yes or no, they're targets. we got the question earlier on behalf of epa from some of you about the 730-day target time lyme li
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line on making decisions on new active ingredients and the statistic that was quoted by epa is they meet all of these deadlines, 98% of the time. there is an asterisk on that. percentages can be tricky and we noted a study that we did from 2012 through 2014 and was a representative period out of the 13 years that target was missed by 50 to 100% in some of those years. so they asked for, you know, a renegotiation of the deadline and then count that a that deadline when they made the renegotiated time line. an example that was co sponsored with epa a couple weeks back, the head of the registration and the head of the re-registration divisions openly admit that their computer systems still don't talk to each other. so there is a lot of duplicated
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work that has to occur to translate one computer's messaging to the other one and they're doing a lot of the same work. so there's still more progress that can be made in those kinds of areas. >> in your testimony smaller acreage and other speciality crops you noted are sometimes disadvantaged in the development of new products or registrations in minnesota that means things like sweet corn and apples and barley. can you explain how having regular tir certainty and accountability helps some of the smaller crops like the ones you grow. >> it boggles my mind how much it takes to bring a chemical to register. $280 million is more than some of the industries are as a total. i'm not any less important than the corn growers. >> really? no, no. okay. so accept in iowa, but i'm kidding. it's a joke. so thank you for that.
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we actually are number one for sweet corn and that's why i brought that up. commissioner black, i authored legislation that was included in the 2014 farm bill that created an ag science committee at epa to provide advice to the science advisory board, efforts to increase this communication between the agencies as i noted in the first question, are important do. you think the ud sda outreach to epa has been helpful? >> yes, ma'am, any time we can come together across agency lines to help businesses that's what we should do. it should be about service and about finding solutions and not -- from the state's perspective, where we want to be more at the table on from the secretaries and direct ors and commissioners and the department of ag across the country, we believe we've got a role to
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play, too, not just across federal agencies but also we're the ones that are implementing it. we're the ones on the ground every day working with farmers, working with businesses and real people in real ways. i for one -- i absolutely believe in the supremacy of federal law. we have programs and things we have to enforce. i don't think federal government, though, has a monopoly on talent and skill and experience and there is quite a bit of that at the state level and we would like to be a part of how do we improve the skill sets in the federal government so that when we have people who have responsibility for agriculture they have a background in that? i think that makes a lot of sense. and we've had a -- when my plant industry division director sits at a meeting an epa person from
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our region asks him do we grow many peanuts in georgia? that is a -- i think that's a problem, not that that's a bad person. but -- >> that's why i did that bill. >> maybe the skill is not matched up. >> do you grow many peanuts -- no, thank you. the chairman is allowing me to ask one more question. in your testimony you discussed the importance of the protection standards and the certified applicator rule. can you talk about the protections that the new standards and rules eliminate and why i want to keep them in place? >> yeah, the rantly updated wps contains fundamental safeguards to protect farm workers, their children and pesticide handlers from acute and long term
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illnesses associated with pesticide exposure. the revised rules significantly increase protections for children by requiring that pesticide handlers and applicators be at least 18 years old. children under the age of 18 are not mature enough to handle these chemicals and it puts them an their co-workers at serious risk. it also has application exclusion zones to protect from direct spray and drift during applications and enhanced safety training includes some practical measures for workers to avoid exposing workers to pesticide residue on their skip and clothing. the updated applicator rule whose implementation has been twice delayed by the epa also
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includes credit criminal cli needed safeguards that have the potential to safe children's lives. one example i wanted to bring out and this is something that was cited by epa in its rule making in 2010, a commercial pesticide applicator in utah misapplied a restricted pesticide at a home where two young girls lived. he applied the wrong dose and played it too close to the home and the children became ill and died from the exposure. misapplications that result in tragic events could be avoided with strengthened certification and training for the applicators. >> really appreciate it. thank you. >> thank you. >> chair now recognizes the senator who has achieved a record of gentlemanly yields i
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don't think will ever be broken i can assure you as long as i'm in the chair. >> i want to apologize for the chairman's humor this morning. but you touched on -- i want to dial in on this as a business guy, taking 11 years, $280 million to bring a product to market is not competitive. i get the gravity of this and get the dangers and understand how important it is for 7.5 billion folks who need food. but you also say in your testimony that the biggest regulatory challenge the epa's performance is implementing the endangered species act for pesticide registration in that we are averaging between 950 and 1100 days compared to the 730 target. specifically what do we need to think about as an industry and what can you help us with that would help speed that up and address the 11 years and 28
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$0 million? >> thank you for that question and of course there are endangered species in every state in the union. some states have more than others and some states have more that are at the intersection of potentially at the theory in the intersection of farming and agriculture than others. but it's everywhere. we all want to protect the environment and that threatened endangered species and their habitats which are described under the endangered species act that has been in place for 45 years. we want to respect that and ensure those goals are achieved. in the 16 years since some organizations have decided to use the courts to try to get a new interpretation of what epa should do under the endangered species act, we've seen no additional protections for
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endangered species but it's added 15 to 20% resource consumption by epa to respond to these paper procedural matters. we participated in over a dozen of the federal lawsuits. most have been successfully managed. we have gone through discovery and arguments in the courts. but at the end of the day we now see the same activist organizations are litigating over brand-new chemistries. it used to be just old chem cities. now it's holding up access to new chemistry approvals to get to the marketplace. amending the endangered species act is not easy for congress. we had a coalition that tried to the that ten years ago and failed. we think a fresh look at that
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but also in regard to administrative improvements that could be done by the department of the interior and congress could be a pathway along with things that congress might be able to assist with. we would like to talk more about those ideas because again it impacts more than just our industry. it's sitevital for farmers. ranchers in the west have a lot of issues with endangered species and ability to graze animals. certainly something that needs more attention. >> commissioner black, cooperative federalism. i didn't know you had five-syllable words in your vocablation. c -- vocabulary. >> thank you. that's a term that goes back to
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some learned folks have discussed for over 200 years what the relationship should be between the federal government and the state government. but let me boil it down this way to put it in my terms so it is -- we work together those -- all the stake holders have a role in enforcing the law should work together and communicate. and we should be -- have a servant's mind about it in our job mere here to be the governm and hide in the weeds and jump out and aboo. we should not be afraid to say yes, if and guide it that way. one, maybe, example that comes immediately here to georgia is that there's been a product -- and i honestly do not understand the details of this, but there's
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a product that's been approved that we wish we we'd all want to work to try to solve feral hogs if i have a call a day it's -- that's a light day from people trying to solve feral hogs. what are we going to do? well there's an epa approved product that has been in the news, some colleagues out west approved it. we will not approve that in the state of georgia because it harms wildlife. and i don't understand why they didn't figure that out to start with. if you had that cooperation between the states and the states have a seat at the table on a wide range of subject matter. and actually we believe this is really important at fda, the itch station of food safety modernization act and a wide range of other deals where we're on the ground every day. and we'd like for some folks maybe continue to open
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invitations for washington to come to the ground where the work's being done and i promise we'll be good hosts in georgia. >> can i ask one quick question? the 18-year-old rule for application and i understand the seriousness of the -- or the dangers around these products. i'm interested, was there a comment period and what comments did you get from family farms about the 18-year rule. as a person who did a lot of work on the farm below the age of 18 i'm curious what impact it had and what comments you got back from small family farms. >> for the worker protection standard and the certified applicator rules there is an exemption for family members from that minimum age requirement. >> thank you very much. thank you, mr. chairman. that will conclude our
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hearing today with the exception of -- i feel compelled to inform mr. -- and anybody else that cares we have -- i talked to a farmer this morning out of southwest kansas. it doesn't usually rain that much in southwest kansas. we've had 14 inches of rain in southwest kansas. the last time was 1878. i remember that well. but the whole point of that is that with rain, we now have the habitat for the lesser prairie chicken which has been listed and then not listed on the endangered species list. and i think with the habitat we will have enough lesser prairie chickens that we will have the greater lesser prairie chicken. that gets a little bit silly if you get down to it but it isn't because of all of the
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prohibitions to the farmers and how they would conduct their cropping and the endangered species act. i hope if you have any ways that we can take a look at that, we will cooperate with the other committees in that jurisdiction to see if we can get some answer. we are pretty close to listing farmers on the endangered species list with the patch that we're in. thank you for the witnesses to take your time to share your views on issues impacted agriculture and the crop protection industries. the testimonies will be valuable for the committee to hear first hand. let me say that my fellow members we would ask that any additional questions you may have for the record be committed to the clerk five business days today. the committee stands adjourned.
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on our news makers program this week, senator grassly talks about president trump's firing of fbi director james comey and what kind of person should be chosen as the next director. and discusses efforts to come up
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with a health care law. that's news makers on c-span. this coming monday morning, washington journal will be live from the offices of axios, an online news and information venture launched this year. we will discuss the mission and funding as well as the financial and editorial challenges that a standardup news organization faces. washington journal is live from arlington, virginia beginning at 8:00 a.m. either on c-span. and a ninth circuit court of appeals in seattle will hear oral argument in state of hawaii v trump. the ninth circuit court of appeals granted the request to air the argument live and we'll have it for you on c-span monday starting at 12:30 p.m. eastern.

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